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The Night Stan Stasiak Became World Champ

By Frank Dusek (as given by Stan Stasiak)

A lot of fans wonder what it’s like when wrestlers find out they are going to achieve one of the ultimate honors in this sport, to hold the World heavyweight championship.

Stan Stasiak was one of the fortunate few that had the combination of talent and opportunity to become World heavyweight champion.

In addition, Stan Stasiak was a great friend and someone that I truly miss. It’s kind of ironic that Stan was best known for his heart punch-finishing move because his heart was one of the biggest in wrestling. Despite drawing money for decades as a main event villain, he was one of the most genuine and nicest men you would ever meet. You can’t think of Stan without thinking of his laugh, which he did all the time. He was one of the funniest men I have ever known.

I got to meet up with Stan after he won and lost the WWF (in those days it was the WWWF title). I asked him about his brief title reign. He told me the story of when he found out he was going to be champion.

This was Stan’s second or third tour with the WWF. Every time he went to New York it was the same thing. Three weeks of TV matches and a tour around the house show circuit to collect a win to set up the main event for the next card in the town. After that, it was in the main event against Pedro Morales for the title. He wrestled Pedro dozens of times and never won. It didn’t bother Stan at all. He was main eventing in one of the Mecca’s of pro wrestling, getting paid very well and had no problem doing business.

He was sitting in the dressing room in Philadelphia and the road agent came to discuss the match. Stan considered this a formality as he had been having the same discussion, nearly verbatim, in every major city on the Eastern seaboard for the last two months. In fact, it was the same conversation that Stan had over and over the last couple of times he had wrestled in the territory.

Here is how Stan relayed the conversation:

WWF official: Pedro makes the big comeback and gives you a belly-to-back.

Stan (bored): Uh-huh

WWF official: The referee will go down to make the count.

Stan (paying about half attention while he tied his boots): Right…

WWF official: The referee will count "one, two…."

Stan (matter-of-factly): Of course….

WWF official: At two, you roll your right shoulder….

Stan now looks up to pay attention realizing this must be a false finish leading to another spot after which Morales would hit the top rope splash for the win.

WWF official (matter-of-factly): Pedro’s shoulders will still be down and the referee will hit three.

Stan completely stopped what he was doing as he took a long look at the official.

After a long pause that seemed like several minutes, the official offered nothing else so Stan spoke.

Stan (somewhat confused): You mean I win?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

WWF official (matter-of-factly): Yes.

Stan: Is this a title match?

WWF official (matter-of-factly): Uh-huh.

Stan was really confused now as the official just stared at him blankly.

Stan (in disbelief): You mean I win the title?

WWF official (somewhat impatiently): Yes.

Just like that, out of nowhere, Stan Stasiak was about to become the World Heavyweight Champion. And unlike today, they didn’t tell him until they went over the match in the dressing room.

Turns out the decision was made to pass the torch from Pedro Morales back to Bruno Sammartino. They wanted to put the title back on Bruno at the next Madison Square Garden card but didn’t want Bruno to beat Pedro.

For eight days, Stan Stasiak got to live out a dream most wrestlers never realize.

Frank Dusek is a second-generation wrestler from one of the most famous wrestling families ever. He had a solid career as a wrestler and later managed several wrestlers to major titles. He also spent time as a broadcaster, promoter and matchmaker. His first memories of the wrestling business are selling programs for his father when he was 4 years old.

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1999 Content: Frank Dusek, Mark Nulty
1999 Design: Jan Herod
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